From the top of the Eiffel Tower, you get a gorgeous view of the seine river, the Arc de Triomphe, boats, millions of buildings, all the architecture Paris has to offer, but down on the ground, surrounded by people, is where all Paris’ beauty takes place. The people clothe themselves in street style fashion. They wear dark colors with soft blues and light browns. The men wear sweaters with handsome scarfs and crisp suits. They present themselves with such a sophisticated manner as if everyone is a proper being. There are cafes on every block with tables full of people sipping their strong coffee and enjoying croissants with delicious jam. Passing by each cafe you can hear the sing songy way in which the people say mercí or bonjour. The city has so many enchanting qualities, and so far I’ve only discussed walking down the block.
The cafes and brasseries were divine and the food was incredible. Each morning we sat down in a cafe and I drank a cafe au lait which always had the perfect kick of strong coffee to start my day of exploration. With my coffee, I enjoyed a croissant with many jam options. My favorite had to be apricot. We walked all day long which was truly so fun and we experienced a good portion of the city by foot. Of course, we worked up quite an appetite which was nothing a nearby cafe couldn’t fix. While in Paris, I enjoyed a rich cauliflower soup that was one of the best foods in the whole trip. Up there with the soup would be a caesar salad I ate by the Eiffel Tower, salad with prawns wrapped in fried Chinese noodles and of course, the jam and croissants.
As an “American in Paris”, we of course had to visit all the typical tourist sites. We started off the first morning at the Eiffel Tower. The Tower was almost as large as the lines. But it was such a crazy pretty view and the glass elevator made me feel as if I was floating through Paris. It also made me feel like I was going to puke because I’m scared of heights. My favorite thing in Paris was probably walking through the Tuileries garden to the Avenue des Champs Elysées which lead to the Arc de Triomphe. On the Avenue des Champs Elysées, there were so many fancy stores. We stopped at Tiffany & co and Adidas because an addiction to workout clothes is a hard thing to ignore. Stores like Cartier, Louis Vuitton and so many other places lined the sidewalks. I could’ve gone into all of them, but my credit card probably wouldn’t enjoy it as much as I. We also went into the Notre Dame which held tons of lighted candles and was such a cool sight to see. We were lucky enough to get into the Musée d’Orsay for free just before it closed! I enjoyed this museum more than the Louvre because I loved the impressionist paintings. The Musée d’Orsay was full of colorful and eye-capturing paintings by Monet, Van Gogh, Renoir and so many other talented artists. The Louvre however, was a magnificent building and it was really cool to see (and get a selfie with) the Mona Lisa, who was surrounded by a (incredibly pushy) mob of tourists. The sophisticated aura of Paris and its’ locals is something so unique and so special to experience.
Each day in Venice, we followed a maze to get into Piazzo San Marco in the center of the city. The maze included arched bridges, some made of wood and some made of stone. The cobblestone streets lead us between houses, stores and restaurants. Near our hotel, which was in a residential area of town, was a small bakery. The bakery omitted an aroma that was warm and fluffy and felt like a sweet, big hug. The streets were lined with any type of shop you could dream of: Lush, Adidas, Guess, Hugo Boss, and so many more. Of course, the city was full of tacky-tourist stands, but beyond that, there were fruit stands and shops where people sold produce. They sold so many bright fruits and fresh vegetables and of course I had to buy their juicy red strawberries. The people among the streets were a combination of tourists and locals with dogs on leashes. Maybe it’s the fact that every time I see a puppy it’s a big time, but I felt like there were so many dogs in Venice. It made me so happy and I really regret never figuring out how to say “can I pet your dog” in Italian.
We stayed in a gorgeous hotel called Boscolo and it was incredible. Every day, the staff greeted us with a smile and a friendly buongiorno. There was complementary coffee, tea and 1 hour in the spa every day! We also were treated to a delicious breakfast bar (included in our room fee) every morning. They started us off with just black coffee. I say JUST because it did not have milk, however it was WAY more than JUST black coffee. With each sip of coffee, a heavy and rich feeling warmed my entire body. I will never see American coffee the same way. Along with my coffee, I enjoyed juicy fresh fruit, yogurt and rice cakes with their delicious, wide selection of jam flavors. The hotel was like a palace and there were intricate glass chandeliers hanging from every main ceiling. Venice glass is well-known all over the world, which is one thing that made us decide to take the tour of the glass blowing factory. Seeing glass be made and formed into such spectacular jewelry, vases, furniture, etc. was like nothing I’ve ever experienced. I bought myself a pair of royal blue stud earrings made in the factory we toured. Another one of my favorite sites in Venice was the Rialto bridge. It is one of few tourist sites in Venice that we saw, but it holds enough beauty for multiple. The bridge is wider and bigger than the ones we crossed by our hotel and it was also taller. Looking over the bridge, we were lucky enough to capture the beauty that is Venice. The view includes boats cruising along the water which is enclosed by tan, yellow, white, rust and cream-colored buildings lined with windows. Of course, we also visited Piazzo San Marco which has a huge historic building with lovely designs on the outside. The square was lined with restaurants and shops as all of Venice is. However, this must be the home for all the pigeons in Italy, because there were seriously SO MANY. The last thing we saw in Venice was their big opera house. Talk about breathtaking. Once I walked into the theatre, I swear my eyes multiplied in size. The walls were lined with golds and light blues for 360 degrees around the building. The ceiling is a soft light blue and a stunning contrast to the maroon colored seating. It is one of the most beautiful buildings we went in.
The tastes in Venice were like no other. I enjoyed a daily double scoop of gelato. My top 3 flavors were: chocolate, coffee and mint chocolate chip. They were so smooth and creamy and so rich. I let the soft sweet flavors melt in my mouth as I watched gondolas go down the river and people walk the streets. The first night in Venice I enjoyed a traditional but spectacular pasta with tomato sauce. Such a classic that was done so well. The last night I ordered scallops which were also incredibly delicious. I loved Venice and everything about it.
When in Rome, we enjoyed so many outstanding sights and experiences. My favorite day of the trip was our first full day in Rome. The night before we dined at a local pizzeria and I demolished almost a whole pizza myself. That stuff is the real deal, man. They are not messing around. I was so full, but I just had to keep going it was so so so incredible. The next morning, we started out at the colosseum and toured that building. The history behind the building and the fact that it is as old as it is amazes me. We walked from the colosseum to the Roman Forum and explored that. It was so huge and so cool. There was so much to look at as well as so much to think about since the story behind it is so interesting ( I won’t go into it because if you’re anything like me, a history lesson is not what you are wanting to read). By that time we were starving so we stopped and got food at a nearby cafe. From there, our journey commenced. We walked to the Trevi Fountain which was giant and so gorgeous. This was definitely one of my favorite sites. There was an abundant amount of people, but I squeezed through to the front so I could make a wish. I can’t tell you what I wished for but it starts with an h and has two p’s and ends with ness, but I can’t tell you or it won’t’ come true. Next, we attempted to head to the Pantheon. On the way, we got completely lost and ended up going in a huge circle. My feet weren’t too happy, but I was grateful to get more of an experience of the beautiful city. Once we got to the Pantheon, we took in the pretty site and then moved on to our final stop, the Spanish Steps. It was a far walk, but again, that just meant more beauty to take in and be part of. Once we got there, I was slightly disappointed because there were so many people, we could not even see the steps! The steps were full of people sitting, which is not what I had seen in pictures or expected. However, two scoops of gelato cured my disappointment and fueled my brilliant idea that had popped into my mind; I would run up the steps. And yes, I did. And I will tell you, there are a lot of steps. The view from the top was phenomenal and I slowly enjoyed my trip down the steps taking in each site as I went. The following morning we started off at St. Peter’s Basilica and waited in line for about an hour and twenty minutes. The wait was worth it once we reached the top of the dome and were able to look out at all of Rome’s stunning views. The winding staircases, slanted and tight walls and about 300+ steps up there weren’t quite as nice. After that, we explored the Vatican and enjoyed a walk in the city and through the park. Whoever said you can’t do Rome by foot should obviously take a trip with my family. This was our last day in Europe and I can easily say we did all the touring and walking we had in us and I am so glad we got to experience all the fabulous sites, memories, tastes, cultures and cities!